I often ask myself these questions. Who needs to sit on their phones all day? What are they even looking at for all that time? Dont they have more interesting things to be doing? Using your phone is one thing but being on it all the time is another. I have known my share of excessive phone addicts. People who sit on their phones all day and night, especially in the company of others, with that in particular being something that really annoys me at times. It is like people just don’t value face to face communication or time anymore. How are relationships, including friendships, expected to be maintained or grown, if the people within them are mentally elsewhere all the time? Being present physically is not enough. I know people who have brilliant relationships in all areas of their lives and those are the people, not surprisingly, who don’t let technology take over from whats really important. Living in the moment. Building what you have. Not letting recreation time become everything over everyone.
I did some cafe watching a while back, armed with nothing but a yummy hot chocolate and a pair of eyes. In the half hour I was sat there, I was surprised to observe that only about 2 people walked past without a phone. Everyone else was looking down at their screens as they walked by. Not even looking what was in front of them. This was in Birmingham, so you can imagine there were a fair few people to watch during that short time! This is something I wouldn’t have noticed before. Until you think about something within your own life, you can be pretty oblivious to it. I remember when I was pregnant, I swear I had never really paid much attention to noticing other pregnant women before, then suddenly I spotted them everywhere. 😉 Funny how the mind works.
We are, of course, all guilty of doing it to some extent. Over using technology that is. I’m no exception. I am a fan of going online myself. I am an Ebay queen, I occasionally browse Facebook and I text my family and friends to keep in touch. I thought I had a good balance with my phone/home life. I always try to put my daughter first and apart from the occasional text throughout the day that requires a quick reply or a bit of browsing whilst she watches a film on repeat for the 100th time, I thought I had it in check. Sometimes you don’t notice how things start to creep into your life and take over and I am sorry to say I am a little guilty of that lately.
The occasional browse on the news sites went from a few a week to being a morning routine of grabbing my phone upon awakening and making it my first activity of the day. I am guilty of saying “In a minute” to Emi many times, whilst I lay in bed reading showbiz news so utterly unimportant, as she nagged me to get up and make breakfast. It was, I suppose, a delay tactic. I’m fully aware that the minute I get up, my long day as a single mom to a 3 year old starts, who although exceedingly lovely, is very demanding of my time and energy, which is completely exhausting. It’s a shift. So whilst im not going to be too hard on myself , adjustments can always be made to improve things. Another example is my bath. A quick 10 minute dip to clean myself turned into another opportunity to watch meaningless YouTube videos whilst she played in her room. 10 minutes started extending to 40. I always spoke to her and she ran in to see me but it’s still taking away from our time. So I am guilty of that too.
I’m not here to shame others. I’m not here to say I know best. Parenthood is a massive learning curve. Nobody knows all the answers.We all make mistakes, some of us notice and correct them ourselves, some of us don’t notice anything and never self reflect. The important thing is to try your best. If you can say you are trying, that is the best you can do. I suppose when I needed to lye in, or extend my bath, that was the best I could do on that particular day. I still gave all of myself to my daughter outside of that time for the rest of the day. But I realise if there’s a day I need a break like that from now on, I will go and have 5 minutes whilst she’s busy rather than pushing on towards an hour.
A good parent, in my opinion only, is an honest one. One who is self aware and can admit their faults. I have many. But as long as we try and look into reflecting on things too then it will all work out ok. I still get my fill of showbiz trash headlines. (A single mom needs to dream for 10 minutes about how the other half live!) I just do it when she’s in bed or at nursery now. Our time is too precious to keep wasting.
Some of the best examples of people in my life live by this same premise.
I have a wonderful friend that may not reply for days at a time, which, if you didn’t know her, you may take that as a sign she maybe wasnt too bothered about the friendship or the importance of keeping in touch. Fortunately, I know her well and know that to not hear from her is often a good thing, as it means she’s busy and focusing on work, life, family and her children. She makes them a priority as naturally they come first for her. And that is how it should be. She replies to me when she has time. Sometimes she even surprises me with a swift response or two ;-). It doesn’t matter how long we spend apart, when we reunite its lovely, because we make time for each other in those moments. We value that time and respect that each other has taken time out of our priority lives to be there. So being in the moment with her family and not looking at her phone every night is exactly the right thing to do. Family is everything, especially where young children are involved. Her partner is equally set on making his priorities the children and supporting my friend as his partner and mother to his children. I know many couple like this and they are always stronger for it. Team work always pays off! Being present is a choice.
I have a group of friends that I see only a few times a year for birthdays etc, however, when together, we will sit and talk for hours, with not one of us sat on our phones or being distracted elsewhere, because those present is all the input and conversation that’s needed and desired. The same goes for another close friend nearby. We often share cups of tea and lunch and just talk to each other about our lives. It always feels good to talk face to face, establishes a greater bond of friendship and makes me come away feeling positive to know that I have a friend that will listen rather than be distracted elsewhere. Time is so valuable. To give your time to someone else is a gift.
My parents are another great example of how to stay interested in each other and make reality where you choose to put your energy. Each night, after spending very different days apart, they come together at the dinner table and discuss their day. Some people say old-fashioned, I think its vital to what makes their marriage a success. Being interested and making time for each other. I find it really sad when people willingly lose good relationships or friends through a general lack of being interested in them anymore. People will always appear more interesting if they are actually listened to, noticed, appreciated and don’t have to compete with a device of some sort. Back to basics.
A lot of people in this world currently have stopped talking to each other in person, spending far too much time transfixed by liking, following, chatting, sexting, texting. There are so many platforms to entice every different sort of person online, whether that be shopping, playing games, gambling, social media or sex sites. People are too accessible. We live in a society where you can argue with your spouse over something as trivial as doing the dishes and rather than talk it through, simply go into a different room instead and arrange to have sex with someone else at the click of a button. Relationship ended in 5 seconds. There is always someone willing and eager to smooth over a bruised ego for attention and sex. That is truly frightening to me. Does anyone stand a chance? Nobody talks and fixes anymore. Likewise, people can spend more than is in their bank account getting carried away playing poker with other real online players in a different country. The thrill and the risk is what makes the fun. Often though, money is lost and the real friends in physical form are dropped and ignored for players you will never meet on the other side of the world.
I’m not condemning these things altogether, they can be useful platforms to be sociable or spend some down time. But moderation doesn’t seem to apply anymore. There is just too much. Too much opportunity. To much accessibility. It’s up to everyone else how they choose to live. I can’t tell anyone what to do. I do know, however, whats important to me though, especially after writing this, so I will keep reminding myself of that x
Above: Pointing the camera at the only thing on the screen that matters 😉 x